For some, that extra “s” in the word hostel means the difference between a clean, comfortable room and basically reliving their frat house days with people from 14 different countries. Though hostel quality used to run the gamut from “not that bad” to “sleep with a baseball bat,” in recent years, they’ve actually gone quite a bit upscale. A variety of boutique, modern properties have cropped up around the world, and you’d be surprised how cool hostels actually are in 2018 –many of which can easily be booked on Famous Hostels. Now, you may choose to stay in a hostel not just for the affordability but also for the amenities, awesome location, and all around good vibes. Our team took a trip across Europe recently and found the 15 coolest hostels on the continent.
1. Copenhagen Downtown Hostel
When you’re in a city where a sandwich can set you back over $15, saving money on food and transportation is huge. That’s what makes this hostel situated right near Tivoli Gardens and the other must-hits in Copenhagen so special. You’ll probably never have to shell out for taxis, there’s insanely cheap drinks at the bar, and if you book through the website, you’ll get a free dinner. If that bar gets old, you’ll also get comped admission to Rust, a club not far away. Combine that with free daily walking tours and nightly foosball tournaments, and you may leave Denmark with a lot more money than you’d planned.
2. Oki Doki City Hostel
Hostels offer a lot of experiences you just don’t find at regular hotels. Like, say, how to make pierogi. Dumpling-making is but one of the many things you can learn at this hostel midway between old-town Warsaw and the main train station, which also offers nightly pub crawls and a staff surprisingly well-versed in the city’s history. The room décor is a cool blend of modern and colorful, featuring tributes to the city’s communist past. You’ll find walls with sections left unfinished in a sort of brutalist-chic motif and rooms wallpapered in newspaper clippings from Poland’s darker days.
3. YoHo Hostel
If you’re in Austria, you’ve gotta watch The Sound of Music at least once, right? We’re alone here? Ok, well if for some reason you feel like refreshing yourself on some of Julie Andrews’ favorite things, this hostel in the heart of scenic Salzburg screens The Sound of Music EVERY. DAMN. NIGHT at 7:00 PM sharp. Because it’s Austrian. Also because it’s Austrian, the front-desk workers will speak pretty much any language you throw at them, so nobody in your multilingual crew feels left out. The décor is pretty austere — think Kindergarten classroom furnished by Ikea — but the location is fantastic, the bar has pictures of patrons on the wall dating back to the ‘80s, and you can even rent bicycles in the summer.
4. Mrs. Potts Hostel
Hostels are wonderful for a great many things. Privacy usually isn’t one of them. But perhaps the biggest selling point of this perfectly situated hostel on St. Mary Street is that each bunk has curtains you can close so you won’t have to watch everyone in your dorm roll in late/wake up early. The location also tops any other hostel in Cardiff, being a short walk from Cardiff Castle, Principality Stadium, the National Museum, and countless theaters. Though it’s still a hostel, the place feels as warm and welcoming as the animated teapot that shares its name. So if you value privacy and hospitality, Mrs. Potts is your go-to in Cardiff.
5. Generator Hostel Venice
The Generator chain of hostels is making its mark in Europe with its creative reinvention of old spaces, turning them into chic, trendy lodgings. Perhaps the best among them is this one set in an old brick Venetian warehouse where every room comes with a fantastic view. Some are of the Grand Canal, some of the hostel’s palatial gardens, and some of San Marco across the water. But absolutely none are of brick walls or parking lots. The interiors feature exposed brick and beams on the ceiling, giving a sense of the building’s history to its guests. It’s not the cheapest hostel on the continent — double rooms start at 60 euros — but compared to the rest of the city, it’s still a top deal.
6. Czech Inn Hostel
This hostel in a hip, residential Prague neighborhood is the sort of place you check into and say, “Is this really a hostel?” The rooms are done up in modern — albeit cozy — furniture with oversized pillows, fresh linens, and headboards that are color coordinated with the throw pillows. Yeah, throw pillows in hostels are a thing now. There’s also a downstairs bar, which in America might be called a “speakeasy” but here is just a cool, dark drinkery with fantastically cheap drinks. Though you’re not in the city center, the neighborhood is fun to explore, and there’s a tram right outside that gets you to town in about 15 minutes.
7. Hostel Ruthensteiner
This backpacker oasis in the heart of Vienna has been hosteling since before hosteling was cool, opening back in 1968 and claiming to be the city’s original independent backpacker’s hostel. But don’t let its age fool you, this place has been fully renovated over the past few years and boasts new hardwood floors; clean bed frames; and fresh, bright rooms. The common area also offers musical instruments if you’re the sort of person who likes impressing people from all over the world with your Dave Matthews covers. If you’re into cooking, the kitchen has fresh herb plants, so whatever you make will be almost-farm-to-table cuisine, served in the hostels calming outdoor garden.
8. Patio Hostel
The Slovakian capital of Bratislava might be the last great European bargain city. And lucky you, you cost-savvy Euro-traveler you, your insanely cheap hostel is literally steps from all of it. Patio is situated literally stumbling distance from the best bars and clubs in Slovakia, but it’s not just great because of the location. Its rooms are done up in pastel walls with outlines and silhouettes of everything from sea life to imaginary furniture on the wall. Some even come with hammocks — that aren’t a replacement for a bed! During summertime, the hostel hosts nightly barbecues, but if that’s not for you, there’s also a kitchen on every floor. Or you can just drink your dinner at the stylish new bar, but you should probably hit up the barbecue first.
9. Franz Ferdinand Hostel
It’s not a stretch to guess that most people born after 1980 think Franz Ferdinand is simply a creative band name. And there are probably a great many people who will check in here and be disappointed that instead of playing “Take Me Out” on loop, the hostel gives you a history lesson about the namesake of the band, Archduke Franz Ferdinand, whose assassination led to World War I. Each room features big photo murals that help tell the story of this turning point in history, set atop spacious white rooms with clean, modern décor and pod-like beds dug into the wall. It’s only a couple minutes from the Old City in Sarajevo, so for a history lesson that also feels a little like a boutique hotel, this might be the best place in Europe.
10. Maverick Hostel Budapest
When the members of the Hapsburg dynasty built this mansion in the heart of Budapest, they probably never imagined it would someday house wandering, youthful travelers looking for a cheap place to stay. But if Budapest knows one thing, it’s that times change. So now, this historic mansion is possibly the most architecturally striking hostel in Europe. It features everything from Classicist to Gothic to Art Nouveau designs with a grand spiral staircase and tall, majestic windows in every room. There are even faux period-piece chairs in both the common areas and dorms, making this hostel feel like a historic hotel. The Maverick is also completely devoid of bunk beds, meaning you’ll never have to worry about stepping over a complete stranger to get to sleep. It’s just another way this place pays homage to the elegance and class its designers intended.
11. ArkaBarka Floating Hostel
This massive, wooden floating house on the River Danube in Belgrade’s Park of Friendship is the first fully functioning youth hostel built completely on the water. The sleek design makes it look a little like a Seattle tech billionaire’s luxe houseboat, but step inside, and you’ll immediately realize it has a much funkier vibe. The lobby-bar walls are hand-painted in bright colors reminiscent of a Mexican surfing bar or oceanfront cantina. It’s also set in a park full of joggers, roller-bladers, and dog-walkers, giving the place a much healthier and more recreational feel than hostels set in city centers. Many of the rooms have water views, and the free breakfast can be enjoyed on ArkaBarka’s sprawling outdoor terrace.
12. Chillout Hostel
The award for originality in bunk bed wall design has to go to this hostel in the historic center of Zagreb. Many of the rooms are done up in grey faux-brick, including the bunk walls. This gives rooms the feel of an industrial loft and the bunks the feel of a cold-war prison cell. Fortunately, the top of each bunk is painted with a mural that looks like a hole busted through to the rest of the world, making each one as much a work of art as a place to stay. Chillout also features a cool cocktail bar and a restaurant — njummy — that’ll serve you traditional Croatian food without you having to leave the hostel.
13. Sunflower Beach Backpacker
A night at the Sunflower Beach is about as close as you’re getting to all-out spring break in Italy. Maybe it’s because Sunflower is about 500 feet from the sand, or maybe it’s because the bartenders enjoy pouring shots in your mouth, or maybe it’s because exactly nobody staying here has any intention of sleeping. The place is just an all-out beach party if you come during the summer. That’s not to say it’s a bad place to bunk; the rooms are clean and colorful with new furniture and well-maintained bathrooms. It’s just to say that if you’re looking for a beach party that also functions as a youth hostel, this is your spot.
14. Ostello Bello
Milan is another city where you’ll feel like you’ve spent $100 before you even sit down for your first espresso. For budget-conscious travelers, this hostel in the heart of the city on Via Medici 4 is an absolute godsend. Here, you not only get a clean, comfortable room for less than the price of a few beers in much of Milan, but you also get free breakfast, free tours, free WiFi, free trips to museums, and free food in the guest kitchen. With your meal and lodging expenses severely slashed, you’re free to spend a little more exploring this great city. The cost is a big reason why Ostello Bello has become a favorite among travelers, garnering it the Best Italian Hostel award in 2017 from Hostelworld.
15. Balmer’s Herberge
In the alpine adventure capital of Switzerland, it’s not as important that hostels have posh accommodations as it is that they provide a place for people to continue their adventures. Enter Balmer’s, a hostel that offers an outdoor tent city for low-cost glamping, an outdoor biergarten, and an on-premise club during summer. It’s a little like Ski Week in Aspen with a much lower price tag, a place where young travelers come to party as much as they do to ski, mountain bike, go canyoning, or hit an indoor ropes park. The rooms aren’t too fancy, just metal bunks with red-checked blankets and wood-paneled walls, but the idea here is to spend as little time in your room as possible, anyway.